About six years ago I walked into an adoption day in Westchester, New York, to visit my friend, Philip Gonzalez, who was doing a book signing for one of the rescue organizations there. My heart sank as I saw cage after cage of kittens and cats hoping that they might get a home that day. Suddenly my eyes were pulled to the very last row where an older, very large tuxedo cat sat staring at me as if to say, “Please – you’re my only chance.”
I immediately decided that I would have a better chance of finding this cat a home through Helping Paws than he would have up against all the younger cats that were looking for a home. And so I adopted Moses, who soon was renamed Moose.
Moose was about four or five years old and when I brought him into the house and when I let him out of the carrier, he just walked around greeting everyone. His size alone kept my more dominant cats at bay and he immediately fit in. An our after he was in the house, he had his first seizure. Moose had about fifteen seizures in the first few days he was in our home.
It was obvious why someone had put him into a shelter and it was obvious he would never leave my house. Tests were inconclusive but it was deemed to be either a brain tumor or epilepsy. We put him on some calming medications and although it stopped the seizures, it also took away his personality.
We decided that we would let Moose live his life naturally and if the seizures were going to end his life, so be it. And the remarkable thing is that from the moment when we took him off the medication, he never had another seizure. That pointed to a brain tumor that went into remission.
Moose became a favorite of ours as well as every person who came in into our house. At 18 pounds he was our largest cat, but never appeared to be fat. He was tall and big boned and had a gentle demeanor about him that always amazed me.
Laps were his favorite pastime – no matter where he was, if you sat down to watch television, he was the first (and only) cat on your lap. When I walked through the door after work, every day, Moose would be standing on the kitchen table, yelling at me because I wasn’t petting him fast enough. His purr was as big as he was and could be heard two rooms away.
A couple of months ago we noticed a small abscess under his left eye and that he was losing some weight, so we took him into the vet. We figured he got into a tiff with one of the boys and he was put on some antibiotic. But weeks later, it was worse instead of better. Our vet said he wanted to rule some things out so he was going to run some tests. Only he wasn’t able to rule out the worst possible diagnosis.
Adenocarcinoma (also known as nasal sinus cancer). This cancer normally starts at the nasal cavity and eventually metastasizes to the frontal down to the paranasal sinuses. These tumors are generally malignant. One of the major causes of this type of cancer is inflammation in the mucous membrane to the lining of the nose.
It can trigger the growth of the cancer cells into the nasal cavity. A cat with nasal cancer may show no evidence for five years or more! One of the early signs of this cancer is seizures; but then they can stop while the cancer continues to spread. The cats will only show signs when the cancer is already in the last stages. When this happens, the survival rate is very low. Because of where the tumor was, surgery was not an option for us.
By the time the tests came back, one side of Moose’s face was completely swollen and you didn’t even know he had an eye. He was obviously in pain, but never changed his gentle personality. We agreed that we would not put mouse through the pain of radiation. Since cats have no sense of mortality, he would have no way of knowing we were trying to help him and it would only make him wonder why we brought him somewhere to cause him more pain.
There was one other thing we could do but it was a long shot, at best. Many times steroids will bring down the swelling and even put the cancer into remission for awhile. It was worth a try. We also brought home some serious pain medication. Moose rallied in the first five days – he ate three cans of cat food a day! He jumped on our laps again and slept in our bed, closely cuddled up to both myself and my husband.
We fooled ourselves into believing that the treatment was going to work and Moose was going to be with us longer. But before the ten days was up we knew we were wrong. The pain medicine stopped working and his face became even more swollen. One day Moose looked right into my eyes and cried and I knew he was asking me to stop the pain. And so I did.
Goodbye my Moose – and thank you for all the love and trust you gave us. I hope I didn’t let you down.
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